The Notion of the ‘Good Enough School’

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Good School


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This is a blog about the notion of the ‘good enough school’ by C. James and I. Oplatka.

Each month, as part of my BELMAS subscription, I receive a monthly journal from BELMAS / SAGE publications. In each publication, there are a range of synopses from academics across the world. Occasionally I tweet the odd photograph, but this time I have decided to blog a short preview from some of my favourite articles this month …

The Good Enough School:

An exploration of the notion of the ‘good enough school’ by;

  • Chris James – Department of Education, University of Bath, UK
  • Izhar Oplatka – Tel Aviv University, Israel.

The rising expectations on schools and the consequences of not meeting these expectations are highlighted in Chris James and Izhar Oplatka’s new paper in Management in Education. The authors argue that creating a ‘perfect’ school in which nothing is left to chance is not only impossible but also, ultimately, undesirable.

Yes, you did read that correctly. Undesirable!


James and Oplatka draw upon the ‘good enough mother’ concept, whereby creating a space in which some of the child’s needs are not met allows the child to grow and develop as well as reducing the overall pressure and guilt felt by the mother, and relate this to an educational context. They argue that education which does not allow risks means that children are unable to develop as self-managing adults.

To highlight their argument the authors include three cases in which teachers were presented with situations that had no ‘perfect’ solution. The first the case of a violent child, the second a school trip where a child needs non-urgent medicine which was not declared in advance by the mother, and the third of interviewing a candidate for a deputy head teacher position with different views of how lessons should be planned.

The authors explain that they are not advocating an inadequate learning environment; rather that a great learning environment can be achieved through allowing space for students to take risks and make mistakes. This reduces the pressure on teachers and on the students themselves.

Good School

This image is not associated with this journal – Credit: AMathsTeacherWrites


I have managed to arrange for the full article to be accessible on the SAGE website until the end of April 2015 here. Sage Journals provides research tools, journal alerts, and online journal access information in a dedicated portal for all individual users, students, researchers.

I hope you enjoy the article I have highlighted.

The Notion of the ‘Good Enough School’

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6 thoughts on “The Notion of the ‘Good Enough School’

  1. Ross, this is brilliant. Thanks so much, I’ve signed up for SAGE to get more of these. This needs discussing: striving to be more than ‘good enough’ takes the humanness out of the classroom for students and teachers. “Over-engineered” is a word I’d use to describe my recent schooling experience… and that description resonates with others my age and with many teachers in the current system. It’s literally taken me a few years after school/uni was done to learn how to think again, the way I did up until early primary school. Other people I know have talked about a need to ‘recover from schooling’ and I completely understand why… we only get to become ourselves free from scrutiny and judgment when it’s all done. I’m blogging for re-empowerment of teachers and re-empowerment of students over here:

  2. There would certainly be happier teachers!! The truth is we can all go over and above sometimes and other times we can’t. In the end it evens itself out as long as the relationships we have with our pupils are strong!!

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